Hudson tugged me into his arms. “I was trying to not be with you at the time, Alayna. But I couldn’t sleep that night. Because I couldn’t stop thinking about you.” He kissed me on the forehead as I furrowed my brow. “Tell me—what’s going on in there?”
“It’s just…” How could I express the myriad of emotions that I’d been through that morning? Especially this growing fear tugging at my gut—this fear that anything that seemed too good to be true usually was.
I took a shaky breath. “You’ve made a complete one-eighty, Hudson. About you and me. You were so intent to be only sex only half a day ago. And now…who are you?” It scared me. It made me doubt what he felt. It made me wonder if he was playing games with me.
Hudson cupped my face in his hands and pierced me with his deep gray eyes. “Don’t do that. I mean it.”
He widened his eyes, making sure I was with him.
“I’m the same man, Alayna. A man who commits to whichever plan he’s chosen. I had told myself I couldn’t have you. So I didn’t let myself even try.”
“And now you’ve let yourself.” I said it like a statement, but it was really a question. A question that I absolutely needed answered.
“Yes. And I will commit to this new plan as fiercely as the other. Even more fiercely. Because that plan was a compromise.” He pressed his forehead against mine. “This plan is the one I should have pursued to begin with. It’s the better plan.”
My throat tightened. “The plan with the greater potential of profit.”
“Unfathomable potential.” He parted his lips and bent in for a kiss, sucking gently as he moved his mouth over mine. It was a sweet and tender kiss and it ended too quickly. “I have to go. Save more of that for later.”
I walked with him to the foyer. He retrieved his briefcase from the closet then kissed my forehead once more before stepping into the elevator. We stood, eyes latched until the doors closed.
As soon as he was gone, I fell against the foyer wall. Oh my god, was this really happening? Was I really making myself at home in the penthouse of my billionaire boyfriend? I felt like Cinderella. Or Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Did Hudson really want me in his life like this or was I completely insane?
I was insane. Insanely happy.
With a squeal, I ran to the living room and threw myself on the sofa. I closed my eyes and replayed the morning in my mind—waking up in Hudson’s bed, the hot sex on the kitchen table. But what I focused on the most were his words.
I’d like to f**k you good morning every morning.
I’ll be home by six.
I couldn’t stop thinking about you.
After several minutes of grinning so widely my cheeks hurt, the doubts started to creep in again, as they always did. Was it truly possible for Hudson to change so completely, seemingly overnight? Or was I merely a game he was playing? Maybe he wasn’t even conscious of what he was doing and he was manipulating me and my emotions out of habit.
Or maybe, like I, he didn’t know how to do this relationship thing and he was simply acting the way he thought he should, even if that meant rushing.
Possibly it was all completely genuine. I felt those things for him after all. I wanted to be with him every day, all the time. I was ready for that commitment level, even though I wouldn’t have said so two days before.
But I jumped into things, clung too quickly. That was my way.
Maybe it was Hudson’s way too.
I sat up and glanced around the room. I had been serious when I’d said I was a snooper and usually I’d jump right on that. But I didn’t feel the need to at the moment. I did feel the need to get in the shower and clean up. I was still sticky from the evening before, not to mention our morning activities.
I went back to the master bedroom, noting on the way a closed door that most likely led to the library as well as another bedroom. In the master, I stepped into the closet Hudson had retrieved my robe from. It was a walk-in and was mostly empty except for one rack of clothes. There were a few dresses most likely meant for the club, several pairs of shorts, jeans and sweat pants, and a rack of tops. One dresser drawer was partially opened so I pulled it out the rest of the way and found panties and bras. There was also a negligee. I guess I knew what Hudson wanted me to wear to bed that night.
I let out a happy sigh and headed to the bathroom, this time noticing a closed door on my way. I peeked in and discovered it was a second walk-in closet, this one full of Hudson’s clothing. I walked through, running my hands along the rows of suits. Was it ridiculous how much I adored seeing his clothes like this? It felt so personal, so intimate. As if by being in the center of his closet, I was in the center of his life. I twirled around slowly, basking in the metaphor. It felt warm and completely right.
My shower was long and hot. If I’d been in my studio apartment, I’d have run out of hot water long before the time I finally stepped out from the luxuriating pulse of Hudson’s deluxe showerhead. I wrapped a towel around my body and put my hair in a turban, then left the bathroom to pick out some clothes from my closet.
But once I was in the bedroom, I heard voices coming from the main part of the apartment and a click of heels on the marble floor in the foyer.
It couldn’t be the housekeeper—not only was she not due in that day, but she would have been alone. And surely she wouldn’t be wearing heels. Maybe Hudson had forgotten to tell me something. Like, that his mother was visiting. God, wouldn’t that just be the way to ruin my day?
I bit my lip. My phone was in my purse, which was still in the living room, so I couldn’t call or text Hudson to ask who could be in his house. I glanced at the intercom. Should I call down to security? But whoever was there had gotten past security without a problem. Whoever it was had a key.
And from the sound of her heels and soprano voice, it was a woman.
Pressing my body tight against the wall, I peered around the doorframe and down the hall. Her back toward me, I saw a woman dressed in a light blue sundress, directing men with boxes toward the library. Her hair, wrapped into a loose yellow bun at her nape, was what gave her away.
It was the woman Hudson grew up with. The woman Hudson had falsely claimed he’d gotten pregnant. The woman Hudson’s mother had wanted him to marry.
It was Celia Werner.
One of the deliverymen spotted me and nodded his head in my direction. Panic bubbled in my chest as Celia turned to see what he was gesturing at. I ducked back around the corner, but not before she saw me.